Protesters ransack DSWD office in Davao

Subscribe Now February 26, 2013 at 01:35pm

Protesters and evacuees from areas hit by Typhoon Pablo ransacked the office of the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) here, taking away with them sacks of rice, boxes of canned goods and other relief items. The incident happened at around 10.15 am Tuesday, February 26, triggering a riot that was controlled by policemen after a few minutes.

The evacuees and protesters destroyed the office gate after spending the night outside the building. Protesters brought the relief goods to vehicles that were on standby. Police said they plan to set up checkpoints to seize the vehicles.

On Monday, February 25, over 3,000 protesters trooped to the DSWD office and occupied the street in front of the agency.

Carrying bamboo poles and tarpaulin, the residents erected tents and threatened to remain outside the agency until their demands are heard. Karlos Trangia, spokesman of Barug Katawhan, the protest is proof that residents of typhoon-devastated towns have not been provided adequate government assistrance.

The group lambasted the March 19 deadline of the government-sponsored relief operations saying that hunger is still a big problem in the villages. Typhoon Pablo struck Davao Oriental and Compostela Valley in December 2012, in the worst disaster to hit Mindanao in recent history.

“It is very ironic that the people who are supposed to be attended to by the government are now marching from the provinces to the city to demand from this administration things that should have been given to us a long time ago. This is people power,” Trangia said. The protest began on the 27th anniversary of the EDSA revolution.

In a text message to Rappler Monday night, Soliman clarified that the Commission on Audit requires a list of names and areas and a distribution plan before the sacks of rice can be released. “We have to account for the 10k sacks of rice," she said.

In the negotiations during the Monday roadblock, Soliman and the local government agreed to release an initial batch of 1,900 family packs and 100 sacks of rice.

It's not clear what triggered the riot Tuesday morning, however.


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